Misplaced concern?

I came across this news item.

A couple who took their nearly 5-foot boa constrictor for a swim in a Pennsylvania river say the pet slipped away and they’re concerned about its welfare.

The Bloomsburg Press Enterprise reported Thursday that Kolby and Zachary Latranyi had been swimming with the snake named Leyla last weekend in the Susquehanna River. The Latranyis say the red-tailed boa was shedding, so the swim was designed to help it remove material from its scales.

They say Zachary Latranyi was on shore with the snake wrapped around his shoulders when he dozed off, never noticing that Leyla had slithered away.

They’ve been back to the riverside several times, but so far haven’t turned up the missing reptile.
Leyla is described as brown with rust-colored spots and “very friendly.”

A boa constrictor is a deadly predator and can grow much larger than five feet in length. No doubt it is “very friendly” when it is well fed but who knows what it will do when it eventually becomes hungry and starts seeking food?

While any pet owner will want to give their pet exercise and stimulating experiences such as swims in a river and would be concerned if it went missing, in this case concern about the wellbeing of the snake should perhaps take second place to those of any victims that encounter it. Didn’t these owners have any awareness of all the downsides of letting a boa constrictor wander freely out in the open? I simply do not understand people who want to keep such dangerous animals as domestic pets.

Talking of boa constrictors, I used to think that it killed its victims by squeezing them so tight that they were unable to breathe and suffocated. But it seems that what it may be doing, at least in a study involving rats, is restricting the blood flow and cause circulatory arrest, which happens more rapidly. You can see the paper here.


  1. Crimson Clupeidae says

    This is amazing. Can’t wait to see if the IRS actually has the decency to be embarrassed. I’m thinking….not.

  2. Holms says

    I wonder how a person is supposed to tell the difference between a boa approaching in a friendly manner, and one approaching in a hungry manner…

  3. Dunc says

    @3: Boas are generally ambush predators, so they don’t tend to approach their prey. They may actively hunt in areas with a shortage of prey, but they tend to do so at night. So, if you’re approached by a boa during the daytime, it’s probably friendly. Probably… 😉

  4. jacobletoile says

    i wouldn’t worry about it as a large predator, it won’t survive the winter. PA is not southern FL. and really, dogs can be dangerous predators.

  5. lorn says

    The owner was sloppy and irresponsible. The snake deserves better.

    Look at the statistics. Hint: there aren’t any.

    You can find figures for people injured, sometimes killed by dogs. Domesticated bees kill people. Cats cause pregnant mothers to miscarry enough to make the literature. Boas? Don’t make the list of hazards.

    Yes, boas can be deadly if you are small enough for them to eat and they are habituated to think of you as food. A Five-foot boa is smallish. It’s largest comfortable food is the size of a large rat. Odds are it was raised on commercially produced rodents, large mice or small rats for that size, so it might not take to wild food. Assuming it can adapt, boas can be very finicky even when starving, the local rats, muskrats and small rabbits will need to make themselves scarce for a time if they don’t want to get invited to lunch. Most snakes only eat a full meal once every week or ten days. In the wild less frequently and less regularly. I figure it has about a month to do what it is going to do. Winter is coming.

    This is pretty much self limiting because boas tend to weaken, get respiratory infections, and die when temperatures drop substantially below 75F. According to the weather service in the area nighttime temperatures are already at the lower end of tolerable. In another month the water temperature will be well below that and the snake will be forced to avoid the water. Stuck on land it can be expected to seek warmth or die as the air temperatures drop. Monitor any warm locations and you could find the snake. If it doesn’t find warmth by the time it freezes it will die.


    I keep snakes but while I’m familiar with them I don’t like the idea of non-native snakes. It isn’t good for the snakes and it isn’t good for the surrounding environment. I have several snakes. All of them are non-venomous, they can still bite and draw blood if abused, and all are native to my location so if they get away there is no harm done. The largest is a 4′ red rat, or corn, snake. It eats one medium sized mouse a week. I raised it from a 3″ baby and have socialized it so that it is quite calm around people and easily handled. Presently around 4′, the maximum size is around 7′.

    A fair overview but some of this information is wrong in minor ways.

  6. says

    It’ll freeze to death in the winter. Way to do, dumbasses.
    Unfortunately even if it survives by eating small children, it won’t even dent the supply. 🙁

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